Head-up displays were first developed for use in military fighter jets, and double as both a tech and a safety feature. It’s intended to reduce dangerous distractions by displaying key information, such as speed and directions, directly into the driver’s line of sight.
As this technology has begun to work its way into the automotive industry, though, its uses have expanded, allowing drivers to check messages, weather forecasts, and any number of other bits of information that would usually take a driver’s eyes off the road.
Like most high tech features, HUDs were first introduced as a luxury feature, and luxury cars are still setting the standard for how this technology will develop going forward. While some brands are working to make HUDs a central part of the driving experience, others seek to integrate it seamlessly with their existing technologies and aesthetic. To see the latest and greatest it’s always best to keep an eye on what top luxury cars are bringing to market.
Cadillac’s head-up display delivers a huge range of critical information to the driver’s windshield in full color. Not only does it offer driver assistance and safety support such as the speedometer reading, speed limits, adaptive cruise control speed, lane departure warnings, and vehicle ahead indicators, it also helps drivers to navigate to their destination by providing navigation information directly on the windshield. Besides this, it also supports multimedia features. When connected to the appropriate device, it can provide incoming call information, and the current radio station.
The Panamera is working to push the envelope of what a normal HUD can do. It comes with 4 preset modes, and projects information directly on your windshield in high resolution and full colour. Most importantly, the Panamera’s display is completely configurable, allowing drivers to change the layout and content to just about anything they like. The type of information that can be displayed is virtually unrestricted, ranging from practical data like a speed limit display, to the g-forces tracker you didn’t know you needed until you saw it.
At 24 inches wide, the new Lexus LS boasts the largest HUD currently on the market, supplied by their Japanese supplier, Denso. Using thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal technology, and made from thin film transistor, it combines full colour with high resolution and a bevy of complex features.
It goes far beyond the functions of a simple HUD, being described by Lexus as a full Human-Machine-Interface (HMI). It provides augmented reality features that not only use SAT nav data to keep drivers in their lanes and assist them through crossings and intersections, but also employs its own external sensors to track and point out pedestrians and other potential safety hazards.
Made by Continental AG in Germany, the HUD in Mercedes’ S Class offers all the usual information, such as speed limits and navigation information, with a number of additional features to improve the user experience, as well as to further reduce the amount of time a driver’s eyes might be taken off the road.
The S-Class’ HUD integrates information regarding current traffic conditions, and will update navigation information accordingly. Additionally, the display uses the car’s external sensors to warn the driver of obstructions and hazards on the road. There is no ideal substitute for a driver’s attention, of course, which is why it can also be connected to your phone to display information about incoming calls. This makes the S-Class’ HUD one of the best on the market with regard to both style and overall utility.
BMW 7 Series
The 7 Series’ HUD projects multimedia information as well as more typical driving data directly on your windshield. Offering one of the first displays that measures over 12 inches, BMW has a broad range of options regarding what kind of information to display and how to display it.
Despite this, it doesn’t overload drivers with information. BMW does extensive research and testing to ensure that its display maximises the driver’s ability to process relevant driving information and reaction speeds by keeping their eyes forward, and augmenting their view with helpful data. According to BMW, drivers using their HUD are consistently able to process information 50 per cent faster than those not using a display.
Rolls Royce Cullinan
The Cullinan features a relatively modestly sized 7x3 inch head-up display, considering the otherwise enormous luxury SUV. While the display itself might be conservative in size compared to many of the other luxury vehicles on this list, it is in high resolution and full colour, and doesn’t skimp on features. Besides the typical navigation support and driver assistance tools, the Cullinan uses its collection of sensors to track wildlife and pedestrians through thermal imaging, and to deliver lane departure warnings.
Bentley, like Rolls Royce, has built its reputation as a purveyor of classic automotive luxury clad in wood and leather. It’s important then, that high tech features like screens and displays don’t undermine the brand’s look and appeal. The Continental’s HUD offers a high resolution, full colour image, and packs critical driver assistance information neatly into the driver’s field of view without impacting the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.
The all-electric I-Pace is Jaguar’s answer to the Tesla Model X, and technologically outclasses Tesla immediately with its high-resolution, full-colour HUD. As an all-electric luxury vehicle, its head-up display is meant to feel less like a new technology, and more like a natural feature. The display is controlled via capacitive touch switches on the steering wheel, and provides haptic feedback when pressed, similar to the iPhone 7’s home button.
Head-up displays are still a relatively new technology, and neither drivers nor the auto industry have yet reached a consensus on the role and scope that HUDs will have in our driving experience in the future. Different luxury car makers are taking varying approaches to how they integrate HUDs in their vehicles, leaving buyers with a range of options.
Whether you prefer an immersive HUD that augments your entire driving experience, or you’re just looking for a well-designed and conveniently placed display feature, the luxury car you’re looking for is already here and waiting.